James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
So Hans von Spakovsky, voter weasel and member of Trump's vote fraud commission (of course) was on 1A this morning to discuss the attempts by the commission to get voter information from the 50 states and to generally mess with voter turnout.*
It has been reported that the request for information was not made by the commission but by the White House. Spakovsky tacitly affirmed that when, at the end of the hour, he said he's just been appointed to the commission, that the commission was still being filled out and staff had not yet been hired to get the commission working, and he hadn't meet with any of the commission members.
So how is it this commission is requesting so much information from so many states? And how will it keep that information private and not subject to hacking? That was the question he was answering, an answer that began with "It's my understanding that....", which means, of course, he has no idea. And he has no idea because the commission isn't even functioning yet, but already it wants data.
Well, somebody wants data.
As useful as the discussion was (Spakovsky got pretty well hammered, even by the avuncular NPR host; do they breed these people in green houses?), they buried the lede. The issue is not what this commission will do and why it is in place to do it (it was pointed out repeatedly that Kris Kobach tried to get the Secretaries of State to condemn Obama's voter fraud commission on the grounds of "federal overreach", something they refused to do. Now Kobach is running this commission.), the issue is that the commission is so transparently an arm of the White House that Spakovsky can defend the request for information and blather about voter fraud (he could cite one case, from the '80's, of vote fraud in Chicago, and four cases of in-person voter fraud. The NPR host beat him up with his own data on the Chicago case, putting it in a national context and pointing out the numbers were a drop in the national bucket. The SoS of Maine came on to defend Maine's vote system, pointing out how rare in-person fraud is. Spakovsky had nothing.).
Voter fraud and voter records are not the issue when the commission hasn't even started operating yet, but already somebody is demanding data on behalf of the commission. The issue is that the threatening phone calls are coming from inside the house. The issue is that the White House wants this data to back up Trump's claims of 3 million to 5 million false votes (as Jason Kander pointed out repeatedly), and they're using the thinnest tissue of an excuse to get their hands on it (as no one pointed out, but should have).
And NPR just helpfully buried the lede.
Then I get this link from Charlie Pierce:
The story is very, very complicated and I spent several hours last night reading up on it. One lawyer involved in the case died in a Russian prison at the hands of the Interior Ministry. Another was recently pushed out of 4th story window. The key figure in the whole thing, Denis Katsyv, was represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya who was in the meeting with Trump’s inner circle. Another key figure, Andrey Pavlov, is described as “the consigliere for the Klyuev Group.” Members of the Klyuev Group are described as Russian mobsters linked to the Russian government.Mindful of the "blockbuster" story about who Donald Trump, Jr. met with and what they said to him, I wonder if anybody's going to bother to follow the money.
One thing I did last night was sit down and read the complaint that Preet Bharara filed against Denis Katsyv. It makes for fascinating reading. The sophistication of their money laundering is dizzying. The reach of their corruption into Russian courts, the tax ministry and the Interior Ministry is simply astonishing. Preet Bharara was of course fired while conducting this case and it was recently settled for about 6 million dollars without Katsyv or his companies having to acknowledge any guilt.
Before you even tackle this material, one thing you should know is that Putin’s government has been ruthlessly defending these mobsters even though the root of the whole complaint is that they carried out the biggest tax fraud on the Russian treasury in recorded history.
Putin sent these folks to talk to Trump’s inner circle in June [i.e., to Fredo] because he was pissed off that Congress passed a law after goons from his Interior Ministry beat the lawyer who uncovered this fraud to death. The law places sanctions on 44 individuals who are known to have been involved in this lawyer’s mistreatment and death. Putin suspended American adoptions of Russian orphans in retaliation, which is something he has done for other reasons in the past, too.
I'm not holding my breath.
*Aside from the voter fraud in Chicago in the '80's (as the Maine SoS pointed out, practices have changed dramatically in voting enforcement in 30 years), Spakovsky cited four cases of individual vote fraud.
Since Monday, according to official counts, the office has seen 270 of its voters cancel their registration. About 70 have asked for confidential status, in which they sign an affidavit saying they feel their safety is at risk. That is a seismic boom for an office that typically sees just a handful of such asks each week— if that, says Mircalla Wozniak, an elections division spokeswoman. The sticky notes in Boulder, since taken away by recycling, are the fluttering physical sign of a stark reality following a week that swept this state's election officials into a swirl of controversy.
There was a similar story from Florida last week. As I say, the commission hasn't even met yet, and already it's scaring voters in two states. Nothin' but good times ahead!